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I know it's not a real stradavarius but...


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Hello to all curious and possibly helpful violin experts out there. I have an interesting story and hope you will forgive the ignorance from which I tell it; I am not a violinist.

BACKGROUND:

My son is 7 and has been taking Suzuki lessons for 3 years now. He is just about to move up to a hafl size violin. Last year, when it was time to buy his new violin, he was fortunate to be allowed to play a workshop violin and its tone was simply stunning, though we still had to purchase the factory violin because of price considerations.

NOW THE REALLY INTERESTING PART:

My mother was recently helping her very elderly friends move out of their house. The family is quite wealthy and has been giving things away as they clear out their stuff. Knowing that my son would soon have to move up to another violin size, when my mother spied an old case lying in a corner, she asked if she could look inside. The woman, who is 87, told her she was welcometo have a look, but that there might not be anything inside. The woman said that the case had been in her home since she was a little girl, and that her father's friend, who had been a concert violinist in an orchestra had left the violin there (we are talking some 70-80 years ago). The man to whom the violin originally belonged is long dead and the woman cannot remember his name or where he played.

Anyway, inside the case were two bows, one with the horse hair badly frayed and split, the other in tact but well worn from play. The leather on the stick above the frog has finger marks in it where the leather was worn down to the stick from wear. The mother of pearl has come out of the frog. The other bow still has its silk binding in tact on the stick, and the mother of pearl is still inlaid in the frog. Both sticks have real ivory tips.

The violing looks to be workshop made. It does not have a bright shiny finish, but rather, a darker more suted finish. Also, I would say that the colour tends toward the oak-brown rather than the red-honey of factory made violins. The pegs are ebony. There is a crack in the body (yes, it breaks my heart, but I am hopeful that it can be repaired). Inside is a label that reads:

Antonius Stradavarius Cremona Facibat Anno 1721.

I realise that these labels appear frequently in violins that are not authentic, and I expect that this is the case here.

My question to you all is whether a violin that has lain dormant for so long is worth repairing. Some absolute fool glued the bridge on at one point, which may be the reason it was abandoned. However, because the glue is old, I think a good workshop could clean it off. Also, the soundpost has fallen loose, but I am hopeful that the instrument can have its body opened up and be repaired.

One of my son's factory made violins eventually developed a crack in its body, because of temperature problems we think, but we had it repaired and the crack was not visble and its tone was as lovely as always.

If you had such a violin fall into your hands, what would you expect to hear from a shop about its possible value, and what would you expect to pay for repairs (cleaning, soundpost, setting the bridge and restringing).

The workshop violin we were looking at last spring was a 1/4 size and the asking price was $2000.00 I am, therefore, figuring that if I can repair this full size violin for anything less than that, that it would be a good deal. Am I wrong?

Is there any value to these "knock off" strads?

No matter what the answer, I have not lost anything. Mostly, I hope to gain a reasonable instrument that my son can play and enjoy.

I appreciate any advice.

Sincerely,

Morgan Holmes

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any answer that you get from people on this board will be of little real value for a number of resons.

1.there is absolutely no way to know if it is one of the many "missing" real strads, or (most likely) that it is a $50 piece of junk. the story behind it is like a 1,000 i've heard.

2. the repairs cannot be estimated without seeing it, but i can tell you this, if it is what i suspect it is, i wouldn't spend more than $100-200 to get it fixed.

3. while we would have no idea. a dealer could tell you in under 10 seconds what it is worth and how much it would cost to fix (and they shouldn't charge for a simple assessment)

p.s, many times cracks like you describe can be (for inexpensive instruments) fixed without taking off the top, it just depends.

mike

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I am currently playing a cheap, 19th Cent. German copy that belonged to my Mother. Odds are reasonably good that my violin and the one you found are similar in heritage. Although I also would caution you about spending more than a couple hundred on repairs, and a good shop can tell you whether or not the required repairs are worth it; I must add to this discussion that my violin is much better than the local rentals. It has a much nicer tone. Now, it lacks a lot in responsiveness and dynamic range; but the sound it produces is much more pleasant than that from $25 a month rental instruments.

In other words, don't look at this violin strictly in terms of its resale value. If you can spend $150 and wind up with a better instrument than you would rent for $20 a month and your son plays this one for 8 months -- you're ahead of the game and still have something at the end.

Elaine

Norman, Oklahoma

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: I enjoyed your story. We have gone down the same

road more than once. Most good luthiers will

tell you if an instrument is worth the price

of its repairs. We bought a 100 year old instrument

at an Estate sale for $130, and put about $400 into

it. Result: one perfect fiddle with decent tone

for less than $600.

Mind you, when you get that fiddle restored, you

might NOT like its tone.

Good luck, and have fun. Your violin has a history,

which, to me, is worth something right there!

Mimi

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Well, I took my false strad to the luthier and he was very considerate, and careful in assessing its true value. Several experts looked at it, and although they felt it might have some collector value, the cost of repairs would come close to exceeding the value and might not yield an instrument with good tone. We decided to leave it alone and just put it on the mantle. Nothing lost at all.

We do have two good permabuco bows, however, with silver, ebony and ivory detailing. One is a copy Sartory, and the luthier said it was a fine craftsman's bow; the other he believes to be an authentic Otto Durkschmidt (Is that correct? I cannot read the stamp very well). I can read the Otto quite plainly, But then I see D???schmidt.

It will be between $250 and $280 per bow to fix them. For the two bows, that is more money than I can afford right now, so I need to choose which one to do first.

I would prefer to be able to keep them both, but if I wanted to finance the purchase of the next violin, I would not necessarily know whihc one to try to sell. The luthier felt that the Sartory, albeit not authentic, was the better bow because of a modification to the turn-screw at the end of the German bow, (it is about 5mm longer than typical and may have affected the balance of the bow).

The luthier felt that the German bow could be worth about $2000 (Canadian), but he did not give an estimate on the Sartory.

I would appreciate any help. I have learned so much in the past few days about what to look for in my son's instruments, but I know that I really know very little at all.

thank you.

Morgan Holmes

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Hello Morgan,

Why don't you keep both bows? Most violinists have a back-up bow anyway. You couldn't buy a very good bow for the price it would take to fix one of these. Let your son decide which he prefers when the time comes, and use the other as a spare. When bows are in the shop for rehairs it can take a week before you get it back. Finance the violin some other way.

A. Brown

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Hello Morgan,

Interesting story! Personally, I would sell the

D???chmidt bow. You would still have the pernambuco bow your luthier thinks is the more desirable one, and the sale of the 2nd bow would help finance the repairs on the first one, as well as go toward the cost of an upgrade violin. But that's just me.

Good luck -

Laura

: Well, I took my false strad to the luthier and he was very considerate, and careful in assessing its true value. Several experts looked at it, and although they felt it might have some collector value, the cost of repairs would come close to exceeding the value and might not yield an instrument with good tone. We decided to leave it alone and just put it on the mantle. Nothing lost at all.

: We do have two good permabuco bows, however, with silver, ebony and ivory detailing. One is a copy Sartory, and the luthier said it was a fine craftsman's bow; the other he believes to be an authentic Otto Durkschmidt (Is that correct? I cannot read the stamp very well). I can read the Otto quite plainly, But then I see D???schmidt.

: It will be between $250 and $280 per bow to fix them. For the two bows, that is more money than I can afford right now, so I need to choose which one to do first.

: I would prefer to be able to keep them both, but if I wanted to finance the purchase of the next violin, I would not necessarily know whihc one to try to sell. The luthier felt that the Sartory, albeit not authentic, was the better bow because of a modification to the turn-screw at the end of the German bow, (it is about 5mm longer than typical and may have affected the balance of the bow).

: The luthier felt that the German bow could be worth about $2000 (Canadian), but he did not give an estimate on the Sartory.

: I would appreciate any help. I have learned so much in the past few days about what to look for in my son's instruments, but I know that I really know very little at all.

: thank you.

: Morgan Holmes

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